Beard Foundation lists award semifinalists

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Southern California didn’t fare too well in the semifinal round for the 2009 James Beard Foundation Awards.The list in 19 categories was announced today, winnowed from 15,000 online entries, the foundation says.

Suzanne Goin of Lucques and AOC was the only Angeleno to make the list of 20 outstanding chef semifinalists. Michael Mina of Michael Mina and Charles Phan of the Slanted Door, both in San Francisco, also were named semifinalists.

For outstanding restaurateur, three Californians made the cut: Bill Higgins and Bill Upson of Real Restaurants in Sausalito; Pat Kuleto of Pat Kuleto Restaurant Development & Management Co. in San Francisco; and Doug Washington and Mitchell and Steven Rosenthal of Town Hall, Salt House and Anchor and Hope, also in San Francisco.

Among the 20 best new restaurant semifinalists were three local spots: Animal and the Bazaar by Jose Andres, both in Los Angeles, and Palate Food + Wine in Glendale. And some other Californians can be found in other categories.


The foundation will announce the finalists -- five in each category -- March 23. Winners are announced May 4 at a ceremony in New York.

Here’s how it works: The foundation holds an online open call for entries each year. An independent accounting firm tabulates entries for the Restaurant and Chef Committee, and based on the results and eligibility requirements, the committee produces the 20 semifinalists in each of 19 restaurant and chef categories.

The semifinalists then go to an independent volunteer panel of more than 400 judges -- restaurant critics, food and wine editors, culinary educators and past foundation award winners from around the country. Their votes determine the final five nominees. The same judges then vote to select the winners.

The foundation, named for the late cookbook author and teacher, also gives awards in other categories, including writing.

-- Mary MacVean